The Mentally Challenged or Physically Disabled Other — Conflicting Relationships in the Croatian and German Novel for Children and Youth

  • Lana Mayer
  • Vedrana Zebec Živković


This paper examines the issues of otherness, social exclusion and disability and the connection between these phenomena in literature for children and adolescents. Common reactions of the majority toward outsiders and individuals with disability are described as well as the negative effects those have on the affected individuals. Out of these prejudices, caused by a lack of knowledge and understanding, conflicts emerge. Hence we discuss common literary depictions of the issues otherness, outsiders and disability with special regard to the portrayal of conflicting situations in that context. Finally analyses of selected Croatian and German novels illustrate the discussed phenomena, showing differences with regard to the participation and manifestation of the conflict, as well as the conflict solution. The literary examples teach young readers understanding and critical thinking and offer examples ready to be transferred to real-life situations.

Keywords: otherness, outsiders, disability, conflict, prejudice, mentally challenged individuals, children’s literature, adolescents’ literature.